Thursday, September 25, 2008

Metal Sculpture

Jim making metal sculptures

First news about the puppy - we'll be collecting her either today or tomorrow. And her name will be Teasel.

We aren't yet as ready as I'd hoped...

Partly because we've just spent a long weekend on a sculptural blacksmithing course. Jim had often said he wanted to make metal sculptures so I booked him onto this course as his birthday present, he's had to wait 4 months for it. I went on the course too but wasn't as strong as the others so wasn't very good at the bashing with hammers part - my wrists just weren't up to it.

Hope you've all been having fun too!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Puppy Visiting


Yesterday we went to see some Miniature Schnauzer puppies - this little black and silver bitch is the one I've chosen - we'll be going to collect her at the end of the month.

It was wonderful to see them all and very hard to choose between them. If I could I'd have chosen several as the hardest bit is the idea of separating them from each other. At least we'll be giving ours a home with nearly full-time human companionship - I just feel its not quite the same as have a sister or brother to play with!

I may be off-line rather a lot in the next couple of weeks - partly because I'm having a lot of problems with my connection to the internet - it just keeps on dropping which is frustrating - and partly because we've got to get the house and garden puppy-ready - as we've had no children or pets living with us here before I think there might be quite a lot to do - especially in attempting to make the garden escape-proof!

Any suggestions on what to look out for would be most welcome.

Friday, September 12, 2008

IF - Island

Island by Caroline in Corel Painter

This illustration started off as a smudgy pen and ink treasure island on paper that I was doing for Illustration Friday in June when the prompt was hoard. I was planning to do a map to buried treasure. Somehow I didn't get it finished. This was a version that I scanned in and that later became a pretend postage stamp which is why there is a version of the island as a sort of Queen's Head on it.

Habitweb - the No Diet Diet is all about becoming more aware of ones habits and breaking free of them.

Today a dreadful one took hold of me!

I had decided to break a habit I have of getting a hot drink (usually just hot water) and then sitting with it at the computer. One reason for wanting to break this one is that I've broken several keyboards that have not coped with even minor spillages of water on them...

So today several times I was very aware and sat downstairs whilst drinking my hot water. I put a cold water by the computer with the idea that it would help me if I knew there was something there to drink.

And then around lunchtime just when I was planning on going out, I was sitting at the computer and knocked the cold water everywhere, including over the keyboard - and what did I knock it with?

The mug of hot water that I hadn't noticed myself bringing in!

Oh dear.

Not only water everywhere and the worry that my keyboard might no longer work but realising just how much I had failed in basic awareness!

Luckily the keyboard does seem to still be working - though if I go off line for several days it may be because its stopped!

However my determination to break this habit is now very much stronger.
No water or other drinks are to be allowed in here at all!
And that's final!

What's your worst habit?

More islands this week at Illustration Friday.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Week 5 of the No Diet Diet begins

Unicorn and Holy Cow

Today Jim and I had a lovely lunch with Connie, her husband Brian and their dog Bella - it was great to meet them and of course it meant I could hand over the loot to Connie straight away as she'd won the journal cover etc. from my giveaway. She's a fascinating woman as well as fun illustrator! I've got lots to think about from our conversation.

On the dog front, apart from meeting the delightful and probably unrepeatable Bella, today I also talked to a neighbour who has a couple of Cocker Spaniels, both were rescue dogs and have somewhat bad habits but not too terrible, I'm going to go for a walk with them soon!

Whilst out on my evening walk I found these:

The Arctic Fox Fox Droppings

They reminded me how, as a child, I found it very confusing that there was a polar bear on a sweet that seemed to be called Fox. After them I found this:

Glacier Mint Goggles?

Aren't those goggles a similar blue to the sweet wrappers! And I've decided that as a message I'm going to interpret them as "Icy before but I see clearly now".

As the title of this post reminds me this is the start of the fifth week on the No Diet Diet. This is where we go into maintenance mode. I don't have time to describe it properly now so I'll leave that to another day. So far I've lost 7-8 pounds which is very pleasing.

Any ideas for different things to try?

Update: Following Leah's comment I should clarify this and ask for any ideas that are unrelated to food as the No Diet Diet is about focusing on new activities and behaviours.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Playing Around

Rubik's Cube

Imelda has just posted this game on her blog. The idea is to take the list and highlight each item that one has personally done. Then to add something new that one has done at the end.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink - (trivially so as I've been to a bar on my own and been the first person there - I was dating the barman at the time ;-)
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game - (Wimbledon counts doesn't it?)
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa - boo they were closed when I visited!
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s nappy
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten tipsy on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment - (at my mother's funeral - you can't get much worse than that can you? It was the priest's fault... we'd told him her name was Gillian and he shortened it to Gill... all her life she had hated that happening and this man who had never actually known her did it to her in death!)
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse of both the sun and moon
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day - (that'll be speak like a pirate day, me hearties!)
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states - (7 I think but who is counting?)
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had/Have amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country - (oh my goodness... yes... my mother and I went to Greece and she chatted up the waiter at our hotel and got him to take me to a disco - horrendous!)
44. Watched whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero - (for ages after seeing Superman for the first time!)
58. Sung karaoke - (never, ever again...)
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football - (don't know what that is...)
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain - (as children we used have this brilliant game in the rain with wellingtons on both hands and feet, walking like and elephant and with a cardbox over our bodies... )
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business - (well I tried...)
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class (karate, tai-chi, qi gung, Kuk Sool Won)
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight - (the bad part was the fish finger curry the hosts made...)
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted a river
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Gotten flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in a Rocky Horror Picture Show
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour - (Jim is in a band... surely that must count!)
98. Passed out cold - (sort of when I cut my thumb once...)
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over - (does getting a job there first count?)
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a TV game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol - (I used to be a crack shot with my brother's air gun, though not as good as him of course... I also fired a "real" gun on an army stall at a fair )
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild - (when I collected them with a friend who was good at identification but when I tried to collect some on my own I was too scared to eat them - next thing I knew they'd gone maggotty! Yuck!)
118. Ridden a horse - (not well...)
119. Had major surgery - sort of... I insisted on only having a local anaesthetic...
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept 30 hours in a 48 hour time frame
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states (like Imelda that's easy, when you don't live in the U.S..... Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Greece)
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi - (yum! I've had "proper" sushi in a fabulous place in California, supermarket sushi and I've made my own sushi twice recently too.)
128. Had your picture in the newspaper - (but not since I was a child...)
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read “The Iliad” - (at school, a translation only and I can recall none of it now!)
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating - (I helped when we kept chickens when I was a child, I didn't actually do the killing though...)
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language - (yes and it was lots of fun!)
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life
151. Organized a HUGE event!
152. Seen something you can't explain with science.
153. Had a book published.

and my addition:

154. Solved Rubik's cube.

Do let me know if you decide to add to this one!

Monday, September 08, 2008

400th post and results of Givewaway!

Red - to brighten up your day!

Hurrah this is my 400th post!

I was hoping I'd get the timing right so I could use this one to announce the winner of the giveaway!

All the people who commented on the giveaway are listed below in the order in which they commented, this is so I can then choose which of you is the winner using a random number generator - there will only be ONE winner of the journal, etc:
  1. Connie, an Illustration Friday regular who lives in Scotland and is visiting Bristol this week - so I'll be meeting her, her husband and small dog soon.
  2. quitecontrary1977, who appears to run a blog devoted to giveaways but, despite having commented here, did not advertise my giveaway on it - I guess that means she is really hoping to win it for herself ;-)
  3. Maria, who lives in Vienna and shows many photos of it on her blog - as one of my brother's lives close to Vienna but only ever sends me photos of his son or wildlife her blog is a great way to picture his newly adopted home.
  4. webradio, a French blogger who has just posted a wonderful cat and mouse photo
  5. tinker, one of my most oldest and highly valued blog friends
  6. Anji, someone I recognise from Dru's blog but haven't been visiting before now, she is interested in postcards
  7. Dru, someone I know from flickr and her blog, she lives in Bristol but we've yet to turn up to one of the flickrmeets at the same time
  8. soulbrush, a recent frequent visitor who has been encouraging me to get a dog...
  9. Joy Eliz, another long-standing blog friend
  10. Ces, someone who inhabits the same blog orbit that I do (in other words she's a frequent commenter on blogs what I too visit) but whose blog I've only recently visited
  11. Andrea, one of my earliest and longest-lasting blog friends of all!
  12. Jo, whose blog is full of the most amazing colours of yarns that she's dyed and spun herself - I used to knit a lot but haven't in yonks...
  13. cms, someone Jim used to work with and whose blog I read - the very best story on there is about his dog and the lost keys
Thank you all for commenting and celebrating my 3rd blogiversary with me.

As I mentioned above I have decided to use one of the random number generators to pick the winner, so without more ado here we go. This is grabbed from the screen given by's sequence generator:

This shows you exactly how close each of you was to winning. But top of the list at number one is #1 and wow - its Connie with whom I'm due to meet up for the first time ever this week - what amazing luck! Since that's going to save me the postage I'd assumed I'd be paying, I'll also send something to the second on the random list... and that is #9 - Joy Eliz!

Congratulations to both of you and I hope you enjoy your prizes (though, as yet, I've no idea what I'm going to give Joy Eliz!).

Whilst I was typing the above the doorbell went - it was the window cleaner who is a fascinating person to talk to. Today he let me take his photo:

Notice that his T-shirt has a puppy on it.

In one of my recent posts I mentioned that I was wondering about getting a pet. One of the things that I have realised is that I really want a dog. Whenever I talk about moving into the country one of the main reasons I give is its so that I can have a dog.

I grew up in the country and we had all sorts of animals including several dogs. When my father died and we had to sell up and move into town, the dog and cats came with us, whilst our hens, and other more country oriented animals, went to new homes. Unfortunately our dog did not like the transition from a life of great freedom in the country to one of great confinement in the town.
  • One day we were all out and when one of my brothers got home it was to see Torrie, our Bearded Collie, balanced on the windowsill of one of the upper storey bedrooms. There was a huge crowd below none of whom had had any idea what to do. My brother went in and lifted Torrie back in. We were careful not to open the lower halves of the sash-windows after that.
  • Another thing that upset me was that, as number one dog-walker, I had to put up with abuse from various "dog-lovers" who would shout at me that such a dog ought not to be living in town. I just longed to tell them that such a dog would not be living in town if my father hadn't died and nor would I! It added immeasurably to my grief at the time.
Bearded Collies are sheepdogs first and foremost and Torrie had been used to having at least some of us around all the time, not least, my father who was always there. Town life tended to mean we weren't in so much, and of course, Daddy wasn't ever there any more.

As a pack we'd disintegrated, lost our territory and failed to elect a new leader! She was doing her best to keep us together and keep an eye on us...

I've been reading The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell and Dog Watching by Desmond Morris which is why I am thinking about dogs in terms of their position in the pack. I think I'll order The Practical Dog Listener: The 30-day Path to a Lifelong Understanding of Your Dog also by Jan Fennell - as I was so impressed by her first book and am now determined that when I do get a dog I'm going to make sure it knows that Jim and I are the top dogs and it doesn't have the stress of attempting to fill that role with us so all of us can relax and be happy!

Yesterday we went to visit a possible dog to buy - it was, unfortunately, extremely badly behaved and clearly saw herself, at 13 months old, as very much the top dog. She was advertised as a Miniature Schnauzer with a bit of West Highland Terrier in her, though apparently a vet had identified her as mostly something else, I can't remember what. She looked more like a Westie to me (probably because she was mostly white) though with a very strange coat and somewhat larger. They were selling her because she "couldn't be left on her own". She jumped up on their settee and barked out of the window whenever anyone went past. We decided that she was too much of a challenge for us - we did not fancy being woken up all night long with her barks as people went by - and besides we really didn't warm to her - if we had, it would have been different!

Her owners had bought her as a Miniature Schnauzer, though without any papers. They also had another one that really did look like one - he was a completely different kettle of fish - or rather dog - and altogether calmer, softer, nicer. He was a few months younger than her and clearly was happy to let her be top dog whilst he had a quieter time of it.

We then went to visit one of my friends who has recently moved. We all went for a walk around her new village, which is only a mile or so from her previous one. Whilst we were out we met some people with a lovely dog. I asked them what it was. As I'd suspected it was a male adult Miniature Schnauzer! I asked them if they knew where I could get one too (after they'd told me what a sweetie he was of course).

They mentioned that there was someone near the Old Neighbourhood pub who had recently had one as a puppy. It turned out that the people with the puppy were living in the house next door to the one my friend had only just moved from! So it was easy to find and we went there on our way home - they most kindly gave us all the details of the breeder from whom they'd got their puppy and let us play with him for a while too.

I don't know if we will end up with a Miniature Schnauzer or not... but I certainly liked all of the actual ones that I met yesterday!

Something else that has challenged my ideas about what one can do in the town was seeing a chicken in someone's garden on one of my morning walks. However these wonderful pigs might be a little more than our neighbours could cope with:

Black Pigs

I had to get right inside the hedge to get that photo whilst we were out walking yesterday - what a lovely day out we had!

I'm so excited at the idea of getting a dog that I'm going to have to calm down before I do.
Keep Calm and Carry On

Congratulations once more to the winner of the giveaway - Connie!

Saturday, September 06, 2008


Any old iron?

Yesterday we went shopping, but nothing did we buy
But a Trade-It paper and some petrol for the car

We wanted a curtain rail, preferably like one we already have that works and not like the other one which having sagged and bagged and lost its will to live is why we need a new one. It turns out that the place we originally bought the good one has decided to just sell its own label version now... and its expecting around twice the price we thought we might have to pay! It also really wasn't what we wanted.

Something else we need, though to say I want it might be a little strong ;-), is a new iron. The old one no longer gets warm and therefore absolutely and resolutely refuses to create steam. I was simply dazed and dazzled by all the features that were available. I've no idea which I might actually find useful... doing a little on-line research this one is looking good: Philips GC4340 Azur Premium Steam Iron with Auto Shut Off 2400W. I may just order it today.

Halt - who goes there?
Caution - Work Area!

One of the shops we tried for curtain rails didn't sell them at all but they had these brilliant yellow guards to keep the public away from various disaster areas in the store. I love them!

They remind me of a toy I had. It consisted of interlocking plastic clowns in pretty colour. They could be slotted together to stand on each other's shoulders. But I found it hard to say shoulders. So my toy became known as my soldiers.

Just in time

On my way to an appointment for a massage I took this photo. Jim, who was going as far as the shops with me, said it would be ironic if stopping to take a photo of a beach ball prompoting should make me late!

As it was for the first time ever I got there before the masseuse and had time to talk to another of the therapists who works there and whose next client was also running late... the rain, the traffic and schools being back all made driving in Bristol most unpleasant yesterday.

This morning I found this outside:

We stole your bags!

And just in case you haven't yet, do comment on my giveaway post.

Friday, September 05, 2008

This morning's walk

Today I took photos of things that caught my eye whilst walking in the rain.

All around me everyone was scurrying through the rain to school and to work.

I carried on walking.

Don't forget to comment on my giveaway post from yesterday!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Third Blogiversary Giveaway!

Its three years since I first started to blog!


Blogging is fun because of all you other bloggers out there - thank you for being there - for visiting and commenting.

Also to those of my readers who never or rarely comment - I value you too.

To celebrate here is a giveaway for you!

Its a journal cover and blank journal, complete with bookmarks.

The blank journal has 50 sheets of 140 gsm acid free paper. It is only slotted into the cover so can be removed if wanted separately or replaced when full.

I've used glitter and gold pens which don't photograph as well as I'd like. So imagine a bit more sparkle than you can see here!

To have a chance to win please comment below - the first name out of the hat (or other suitable random selection mechanism) will be the winner.

Entry is open to everyone - old friends, new friends, passing readers - all you need to do is comment on this post.

Comments are open from now until Monday noon BST.

Inspired in part by Inspire Me Thursday from last week.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Week 4 of the No Diet Diet

Bright Owl Kite

This is a rather long posting so I'll start with a reminder that tomorrow is giveaway day here to celebrate my 3rd blogiversary - do come and comment then - the comments on that posting will be open from tomorrow and then over the whole weekend.

This No Diet Diet is really helping me to notice a whole load of habits I didn't know I had and to break out of the habitweb. The outcome most of the time is one of great good feeling, bliss even. In fact I can tell when I've got stuck on a strand of the habitweb by the fact that a gloom settles upon me - it is very strong feedback - it would be more useful if instead I got highly motivated to break free and do something different but at least I do have a signal so, provided I stay conscious enough of how I'm feeling, I'm okay. But the being conscious part is, of course, the challenge.

This week I have done plenty of different things. Not quite in the order I'd planned but as I chose that order I also felt free to alter it.
  • LISTEN - I did indeed attempt to listen to other people more... not always easy... Jim's brother came with his sons so I got more people time than I'd expected... I also made a point of talking (and listening) to strangers when out.

  • CREATE - I covered one of my journals - I got some holographic sticky stuff - prized off the boring grey covers and covered them with this purple - when I reattached them I also attached some bookmarks - I've never had bookmarks fixed to my journal before but I like them! The sticky stuff on the outside though exceedingly pretty hasn't been quite such a success as it makes the covers harder to turn... and that's despite the hours I spent repunching the holes... I've not used this sticky back plastic stuff much since having to cover books at school so I had all the fun of re-learning how it does indeed like to stick to everything, and how easy it is to make bubbles that are hard to smooth out!

    I also made a new pudding - Chocomole - recipe and brilliant write up of it from Jason Mrant - I was planning to feed this to our visiting nephews but they ate out instead so I've more than I meant to have... it is a surprisingly yummy mousse-like pudding - just a little too sweet for me, though without any added glucose. Its an uncooked mixture of guacamole, dates and cocoa, plus a few other ingredients, and it works really well.

  • ACTIVITY - Every year Bristol has a kite festival but I'd never been to it before. We had a great chat with the owner of this crab kite (my favourite of the festival). He told us that although he and his wife do make their own kites this one was bought and though he didn't say exactly how much he'd paid for it he hinted that it was several thousand pounds!

    Crab reaching for the sky!

  • CHANGE - Jim and I changed the kitchen around a little - he put up some new shelves - I then did the rearranging. I also rearranged the mantlepiece in the dining room - I like the idea of changing that frequently as its the focal point of the room.

  • WALK - I did quite a lot of walking - most days I've been out for walks other than just those required to go down to the shops. I've spotted all sorts of things going on locally that I'd otherwise have missed. For instance:

    I was amazed to see this little digger perched up on the steep front garden and the much bigger digger in the street. I wish I'd seen how they got the little digger into position... the big digger didn't look big enough to actually have put it there.

  • LEARN - I had planned to learn more about my mobile.... but instead I tried understanding more about the I Ching - after all its the book of Changes. Its interesting in many ways because it really is a completely different mindset that is behind it and the concept that everything is in flux is a very useful one to be reminded of... even if, as an oracle, I've no idea what its suggesting!

  • STAND - I've really found that I can keep active a lot more than I would have... this is a particularly tricky one for someone with a history of M.E. but the only time I did overdo things this week was going to the kite festival and I'm pleased to say I recovered from that quite quickly. (Unlike the balloon festival a few weeks ago - it took me several days to recover from my one day there...)
There was also an instruction in the No Diet Diet to do two new things from their list of twenty-six. I did these:
  • Listen to something different - I listened to the Beatles - I've never really been into them but it turned out I could sing along and it was fun!
  • Clean something you wouldn't normally - I must remember that cleaning is much more satisfying than I think it is!
This week involves being more conscious along specific dimensions. These are:
  1. Self-responsibility
  2. Awareness
  3. Balance
  4. Fearlessness
  5. Conscience
  6. Emotional Intelligence
  7. Social Intelligence
The idea is that each day one thinks about the day's dimension - the book explains what they mean by them and gives examples - then one picks a person and a situation and one attempts to actively, and consciously, be more aware, fearless or whatever, with that person and in that situation on that day. The key here is to be really conscious of what one is thinking, saying and doing.

And today, being self-responsibility, I'll have to admit straight out that they, of the No Diet Diet, are very anti-fate and luck. Never mind, although I am not, I still think one should act as though one has freewill. Which reminds me, I found that the writer of Wyrd Allies, Tom Graves, has a blog. I very much liked his take on fate and choice. My first comment on his blog, in response to his posting on English negativity, seems to have backfired... my attempt to "cheer him up" seems to have been a real aggravation to him, oh dear. It seems that my habit of cheering people up is another thing I need to look at... it is a typically English reaction to negativity so I expect I was indeed just being habitually cheerful instead of sufficiently understanding. And then I felt upset by his response... so I got defensive... oh dear, oh dear... not a good start to this week!

Yesterday I lucked out in the charity shops and got a couple of very interesting looking books, complete with left-in bookmarks: one is on Australian Aborigine culture - with a wonderful Irish postcard left inside it, and the other on the Zen of travel with a rather sad bank mini-statement from 2003 left in it - they were in the red but only because of bank charges!

I also got a newish dictionary to replace my falling to bits one.

Some people use coins to do I Ching readings however this is meant to give an inappropriately high ratio of changing lines, compared to the traditional method using yarrow stalks. The marble method, however, is designed to preserve this traditional ratio (I've not checked, I'm taking that on trust at the moment) and it involves 16 marbles of 4 different colours: 1 (for transforming yin); 3 (for transforming yang); 5 (for yang) and 7 (for yin). (I've just found quite a good write-up of the marble method here.)

One of the things that I attempted to do whilst doing a "reading" was to let my own images come to me. I got these:
  • A person running late, too late to take a photo before dark.

  • A bicycle parked in front of a closed gate before a wood.
I just hope these mean more to some other part of me than they do to my conscious self - though as I write this I'm beginning to get some ideas and as I don't like them they are probably right... oh dear... something about being too rushed to understand clearly.... more speed (the bicycle) would be available if I didn't rush... then I'd be able to get through the gate and see the forest and the trees... hmm... all too true.... oh dear...

If you want to do an I Ching reading on-line this is good site.